Kushner heading to Mideast for peace talks

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner will travel to the Middle East on Wednesday as part of an attempt to broker peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Kushner will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu in Jerusalem and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah as a Trump envoy, along with Jason Greenblatt, an assistant to Trump and special representative for global negotiations.

During a meeting at the White House in February, Trump asked Netanyahu to "hold back on settlements for a little bit", a request seen as part of an effort to build trust with the Palestinians ahead of a renewed push for peace.

Unnamed White House officials cited by several news sources have reiterated that an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is a priority for the Trump administration.

Over the past year, the Israeli army has accelerated its programme to install a comprehensive network of surveillance cameras and "other monitoring devices" across the West Bank, Haaretz reported yesterday.

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner listens during President Donald Trump's joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 17.

Settlement watchdog Peace Now was quick to point out that despite this ever-growing investment in settlements in the West Bank, housing construction inside actual Israel (pre-1967 borders) actually dropped 2.5% in the same period of time, despite reports of a housing crisis. President Trump has clearly seized on relations with Riyadh, Cairo and Abu Dhabi as a lever for pushing Israel and the Palestinians into peace talks.

Lamborn said the embassy should not be "linked" to the peace negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

The prime minister added that there was not, and there would never be, as good a government for the settlements as theirs.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, are illegal under global law and are considered one of the main obstacles to peace.

The Islamic State group took responsibility for the attacks but two Palestinian militant groups, Hamas and People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine quickly retorted the three attackers were their members and accused IS of trying to undermine their efforts.

USA mediated negotiations collapsed in 2014.

Palestinians and most of the global community consider settlements built in territory captured by Israel after the 1967 war as illegal under worldwide law.

Earlier this month, Israel green-lighted plans for more than 3,000 settler homes. All three attackers were killed by Israeli forces.

  • Joanne Flowers